Twitter User Arrested, Jailed for ‘Insulting Monarchy’

Twitter logo. Photo: Associated Press

BANGKOK — Police earlier this week arrested and charged a Twitter user for posting negative content about the monarchy, a rights lawyer group said Friday.

The user was charged with cybercrime and denied a bail release by the court on the grounds that the suspect was a flight risk, according to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, who identified the man as a 20-year-old resident in Chonburi province.

Although the charge of royal defamation itself was not filed, an attorney for the suspect said the secrecy and procedures in this case are similar to prosecution on royal insult offenses.

“They don’t use 112 anymore, because they rely on the Computer Crime Act instead,” the attorney said, referring to Article 112 of the Criminal Codes, or lese majeste. “But the court’s rationale for denying bail is similar to 112 cases, word for word.”

Thai Lawyer for Human Rights said the suspect was accused of running a Twitter username who frequently posted information critical of the monarchy.

The group said at least 10 police officers raided his home on Wednesday, then forced him to give up the passwords for his phone and social media accounts for investigation.

He was also allegedly interrogated without a lawyer’s presence at Pattaya City Police Station, where he was charged with violating Section 14 of the Computer Crime Act, which bans importing information that threatens “national security” into the computer system. He faced up to five years in prison if found guilty.

Read: Army Detains Suspected Admin of Monarchy Satire FB Page

In its remand request filed to the court, police said they tracked down the suspect by asking internet service provider TrueMove H to unmask the user’s identity and location. The suspect is currently being held at a prison in Chonburi.

An attorney who represents the suspect said she will file another bail request on Monday.

Crackdown on critical discussion about the monarchy on the online world intensified after the May 2014 military coup, with a number of people arrested and social media pages blocked.